So, why do we do it?
There are many reasons, but for some the biggest reason has to be the fear of loosing all their hard earned fitness because they know is gonna hurt like hell trying to get it back.. :-)
Another obvious reason would be the fact that with winter we all tend to eat a little more “comfort foods” than required and this tends to result in a few extra kilos that we as athletes can ill afford. Speaking of weight, there is no “magic formula” when it comes to weight loss. Its all about input – output!!!
Simply put, if you eat more calories than your body is utilizing, you will put on weight and visa versa. Obviously what you eat will have an impact on your ability to perform but that is beyond the scope of this article…
Now that we have an “idea” of why we train through winter, achieving this is often easier said than done.
At the start of winter so many riders have great plans of just what training they will be doing, how they are going to do it… bla, bla, bla… Once the first cold snap hits, they find an excuse why they should NOT train and the next thing they know… its spring, and all is lost… Sound familiar?
The best advice I can give is for you to set yourself some goals. These goals can be a mid-winter race or two but a more important race towards the end of winter or early spring is vital. The mid-winter races are there to help with the motivation and should be used more as a “hard training ride” than as a “win at all costs” race. Having an important race towards the end of winter will help give you a valid reason to train. So, when you are looking for a reason why you should NOT train, think of that important goal.
With the lack of light and freezing temperatures, winter also presents you with a perfect opportunity to get in some good cross-training. Along with the obvious cardiovascular benefits, cross-training helps maintain balance skills, muscle strength, hand-to-eye co-ordination and an improved range of motion.
If you have the facility, then a little gym work should be good for you. You don’t really want to add any weight or pack on bulk so keep the weights low and the reps high. Focus on your core and upper-body but don’t forget to stretch…
Ply-metrics, Pilates and yoga along with your general circuit training should fit the bill. While cycling may not help you build your core, a good core will help improve your cycling as it aids your cycling technique and will help improve your power.
Running is also excellent as it will give you a tough cardio workout in a limited amount of time while also helping with your bone-density.
Swimming, hiking, skiing and ice-skating are other good examples of sports that will benefit your cycling come the summer months, don’t worry about a structured program, just have some fun and go for it!
Another “trick” I use with my athletes is to give them shorter more intense workouts during the week and then let them get in their longer slower rides over the weekend.
The fact that these week day rides are shorter makes it easier for them to be completed on an indoor-trainer. If the weather is “acceptable” however, make a commitment to a training partner and set a time and place to meet before hand. Why, well if you break your commitment you are not only letting yourself down, you are letting your training partner down, and THAT is not “cool”!!!
If you have problems with a runny nose in cold weather, here is a tip for you. Vasomotor rhinitis occurs when cold air makes your nose run, but nasal spray works well to help prevent this. Just make sure that what you are using is not on the banned list of substances :-)
On the weekend, you should have a little more time available so find a group that will enable you to get in some longer rides at a “controlled” pace and not at “race pace’… It’s ok to have a few “sprints” or surges here and there but you don’t want to be hammering it all day long. If you feel the pace is too high, sit in, get sucked along and enjoy the company that only a group ride can give. If you feel that the ride is too slow, then get on the front and do some work. Remember though that this is not a race, so ride within your training zones. Cycling is a sport that has a fair amount of etiquette so make sure the group you are riding in suites your needs. You don’t want to be the "that rider" messing it up for everyone else!
Those of you with a little extra time could look at a cycling training camp, preferably in a warmer climate. The objective behind these training camps should not be to simply “ride yourself into a coma” but rather to get in some steady miles over a rolling terrain. The change of scenery and added camaraderie will do wonders for your motivation and obviously aid your winter training.
On a final note, you don’t get bad weather you only get bad clothing… :-)